As one of the judges for the Dare to Pair event, held last month at Surf City Vintners, I happily plowed my way through 11 plates of food paired with 11 different wines. Each dish was prepared by students of the Cabrillo College culinary program, and the wines were from local wineries belonging to the Surf City Vintners’ group.
Although it was difficult to pick a winning dish, we five judges chose a duck confit spring roll paired with a Quinta Cruz 2009 Souzão ($24). (This pairing came in third under the People’s Choice award.)
Winemaker Jeff Emery loves to make unique Portuguese varietals, and the Souzão is one of them. “It’s sometimes used in Port and dry table wines and is one of only four grape varieties in the world with pigment in its pulp,” says Emery. “This results in incredible color and flavor,” he says on the label, “yet it has a surprisingly soft and round mouth feel for a wine that looks so dark.” With its flavors of deep berries, earth, tar, anise and other subtle aromatics, every sip brings joy to the mouth. “This wine is definitely the bass player in the wine symphony,” says Emery.
Second place went to Emery’s other label, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, with a 2009 Pinot Noir paired with braised short ribs. Odonata Winery 2010 Petite Sirah, paired with slow-braised El Salchichero pork shoulder, was awarded third place.
I have to acknowledge Cathy Bentley-Smith of Wineaux Times, the main organizer of the event, and Eva McClure, food and beverage manager at the Scotts Valley Hilton, who shepherded the judges around to make sure we got to all 11 wineries on time. We had only 10 minutes at each one, so it was a bit “dine and dash,” but very enjoyable nonetheless.
Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, 334A Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 426-6209. santacruzmountainvineyard.com. Visit the tasting room from noon-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.
It’s Wine Tyme—Grand Opening Kick-Off Weekend
It’s Wine Tyme, a new wine bar in Capitola Village, will be celebrating heartily this weekend starting at noon on Friday, June 7. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 8 features a Celebratory Happy Hour from 1-6 p.m., and the fun continues through Sunday with Copious Winery pouring and a barbecue on the patio. Stop and say hello to new owners, Sondi and Ed Carcello. Also, Pelican Ranch will be pouring their wines starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 7.
It’s Wine Tyme, 116 Stockton Ave., Capitola, 477-4455. itswinetyme.com.
Chaminade’s Farm-to-Table Dinners
The Farm-to-Table dinners start on June 7 this year with the beautiful wines of Windy Oaks. Visit chaminade.com for information.